Solar and low-voltage outdoor landscape lighting systems are easy to install, energy-efficient and economical to operate. Whether you use them to accent your landscape and home or to provide security, these lights are a low-maintenance exterior lighting favorite.
No special skills or tools are needed, and most installation can be done in under an hour using only a screwdriver.
Solar lighting has quickly become a popular and cost-effective way to light your outdoors. With no wiring or electricity, these lights can be installed anywhere. They work by using a solar collection panel that absorbs energy from sunlight and converts it into electrical power that's stored in highly efficient rechargeable batteries. As the sun sets, the solar lights turn on. In ideal situations, fully charged solar lights remain on for up to 15 hours.
LED solar lights are also available. These provide brighter, white light, not dim blue light like some LED lights can. All solar-powered lighting requires a sufficient amount of sunlight to recharge the batteries. Solar lighting performance is based on the amount of sunlight received during the day.
Other benefits of solar lighting include:
- No tools needed for assembly
- Easy bulb replacement and easy-to-handle connector
- Works during power outages
- Little maintenance needed
- Can reduce utility expenses
- Easier to install than low-voltage systems
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Low-Voltage Landscape Lighting
Low voltage lighting is another way to add beauty to your lawn. While installation takes a little more work than solar lighting, new improvements, such as quick connect three-tier fixture and a twist and secure connector, take the hassle out of the process. Electric lighting also offers an easy-to-use digital timer, dual voltage and fiber-optic photo control and a new digital transformer. Also, if the power goes out, your settings will be saved.
LED options are now available in low-voltage too. The LED fixtures use a fraction of the electricity of incandescent lights, and you never have to replace the bulbs.
Other benefits of low-voltage lighting include:
- Easy bulb replacement
- Can reduce your utility expenses
- Adds safety to your home
- Aesthetic appeal
- Safe to install
- Shockless and safe for use around children and pets
Low-voltage lighting systems include the following:
- A power pack (or transformer) supplies the electricity. The power pack plugs into a standard outlet and reduces the regular household current (120 volts) to a safe 12 volts. Power packs have an automatic timer allowing lights to go on and off at preset times.
- A low-voltage lamp is the source of light. Lamps are available in a variety of brightness levels ranging from 4 watts up to 50 watts halogen.
- The low-voltage cable transmits the electricity. Low-voltage cable is a weather-resistant, self-sealing, insulated, stranded copper wire that is available in 12-, 14- and 16-gauge sizes. The gauge required for your lighting is determined by the amount of watts required to operate your system:
o 16-gauge cable can carry 150 watts
o 14-gauge cable can carry 200 watts
o 12-gauge cable can carry 300 watts
Use the following chart to determine the correct size cable needed based on the length of your runs.
Total Wattage of Power Pack
100 feet x 2
150 feet x 2
200 feet x 2
The maximum number of garden lights that can be connected is determined by the total wattage of all the fixtures attached to the system. The transformer is 100-watt. Therefore, the total wattage mustn't exceed 100 watts.
For example: 10 garden lights with 10-watt bulbs = 100 watts
A standard, multifunctional 100-watt transformer has a dusk-to-dawn manual on / off switch as well as an auto on switch with a four-, six- or eight-hour timer.
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Finish Options for Your Exterior Lighting
Choose verdigris and black for fixtures that you want to blend in with surrounding foliage. For fixtures with higher visibility, choose styles and colors that best complement your home's exterior design and landscape theme. The following are available finishes:
- Antique copper
- Polished copper
- Antique brown